Laser scanner gives new view of buildings

The University of Otago’s property services division has a new tool to take the measure of its Dunedin campus buildings and what they contain.

If Luke Skywalker owned a travel mug, the Leica BLK2GO is how it might look.

The laser scanner, weighing 775g and measuring 279mm, is sleek and can be held in one hand.

It produces 3-D images while taking 270-degree photos, creating accurate digital images as it is carried through a building or other structure.

The device can record the exact size of a building, including anything inside that needs regular maintenance, such as heat pumps, lifts and fire extinguishers.

University of Otago head of technical services Rob Wilks said the university had had the $115,000 scanner for about four months and already it had helped his department understand the health of the campus’ 800-plus buildings better.

University of Otago head of technical services Rob Wilks holds a Leica BLK2GO laser scanner aloft...
University of Otago head of technical services Rob Wilks holds a Leica BLK2GO laser scanner aloft. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
"The BLK2GO eliminates human error, allows us to spot unmet need, plan maintenance and keep buildings in top condition.

"We’ll use this device on all major assets from cradle to grave," Mr Wilks said.

Staff could check the scanners’ pinpoint measurements against existing records. A lift in the Hercus building was half a metre from where historical records had put it, Mr Wilks said.

Traditional measuring methods were too cumbersome to show how a new doorway would fit into Aquinas College, so the BLK2GO came to the rescue.

The new Te Rangihiroa College was scanned under construction to show exact locations of cables, valves and pipes, Mr Wilks said.

A science building was scanned before renovations, which ensured new features and services fit accurately into the existing environment.

A 3-D scan of the university clock tower produced with the laser scanner. PHOTO: ROB WILKS
A 3-D scan of the university clock tower produced with the laser scanner. PHOTO: ROB WILKS
"It’s a bit like reading the book before you see the movie," he said.

Scanner data could be loaded into university software to show the location of specific problems, which would save money and improve safety.

With its rotating laser and three cameras, the device also saved time.

"Instead of taking measurements for three hours on the property services division building, we scanned it in 90 minutes," Mr Wilks said.

The scanner would streamline consent applications, insurance estimates and building valuations.

eric.trump@odt.co.nz

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